Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Coelophysis might roam New Mexico's Ghost Ranch, were there such things as Dinosaur Ghosts. Millions of years ago, hundreds of the animals inexplicably died at the site. Gillette describes how their clustered fossils were unearthed in 1947 and offers possible explanations for their demise en masse-volcanic violence, for example, or flash flood. Photographs show the Ranch as it looks today and Douglas Henderson's pastels portray its prehistoric life as it might have been.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Paleontologist Gillette entertainingly recounts the history of bone finds of the dog-sized Coelophysis in New Mexico. The small dinosaur and its theoretical lifestyle are described. Most interesting, however, is Gillette's approach to explaining how these creatures ended up in their burial ground. Hypothetical situations are logically explored, one by one, until the most reasonable solution is suggested. Good photographs and Henderson's really evocative artwork help to make this not just another dinosaur book, but one that leaves the reader intrigued and interested.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6Gillette highlights the similarities between many of the techniques scientists use to unravel questions about dinosaurs and the process detectives use to solve mysteries. She opens her book with the scene of a disasterthe remains of 300 Coelophysisdinosaurs that died so fast 225 million years ago that they'd barely swallowed their last meals. It's up to scientists to find out what happened. In this instance, it was most likely some natural calamity. But did death come in the form of a volcano or an asteroid? Or from thirst? Or were the dinosaurs poisoned by bad water? The author systematically explains all options and makes clear the procedures scientists use to determine the answer. Henderson's full-color illustrations are top-notch, and the photos that show scientists working in the field and the fossils they've recovered are equally good. Though this book contains plenty of information about Coelophysis, it's also an excellent exploration of what is most captivating about scienceunraveling nature's mysteries.Cathryn A. Camper, Minneapolis Public Library
An essential purchaseGillette (The Search for Seismosaurus, 1994) has written another involving book about a topic of guaranteed interest to children.
The book opens in 1947, when paleontologists dug up tons of tightly packed bones in the canyons near Ghost Ranch, N.M.; since then they have studied and puzzled over the cause of the sudden extinction of the speedy, dog-sized dinosaurs called Coelophysis, who roamed New Mexico 225 million years ago. Gillette demonstrates the scientific method, postulating a hypothesis and then investigating it against the evidence found in rocks and fossils. Did a sticky pit like La Brea trap the little dinosaurs? Was it a volcanic eruption? Asteroids? Poisoned water? She tests each hypothesis, presents the most likely explanation, given current evidence, and concludes that the answer is not yet final: "Scientists are always ready to change their ideas to fit what they learn." The paintings by Henderson are satisfying, full- color renderings of the dinosaurs, their habitat, and the catastrophe envisioned in each hypothesis. Photos of excavators and bones provide additional intrigue.